Arriving at Petra
The Walk Into Petra
The Siq
The Small Siq
Street of Facades
Water Works
The Theater
The Royal Tombs
High Place
Colonnade Street
Great Temple
Temple of Al Uzza
Temple of Dushares
The Museum 
The Dier 
Al Habis
Um Al-Biera
Jebal Haroun
City of Board Games
Snake Monument
Sabara Suburb
City Walls/Map
Al Beidha
Al Beidha Village
Kubtha High Place
Wadi Nmeir 
Small Delights
The Bedul
Petra Today 
Petra Park
Is Petra the
Holy City of Islam?
Right: Behind Um AlBiera mountain is an aquaduct that crosses high above a siq.
Special thanks to Kezsmarki Agnes for this great picture. Used with permission.

Petra Water Works

 water channel


Along the left hand side of the siq, a covered water channel used to bring water from the spring in Wadi Musa into the center of Petra.

covered channel Along the right hand side of the siq, clay water pipes brought water into the city.

pipes in museum
The museum in Petra has these two pieces of pipe on display so tourists can see the incredible advancement that the Nabataeans made in their water works. These clay pipes have tapered ends, something we modern people only figured out in the last two hundred years. 

 pipes high up
Farther along the Street of Facades, the water pipe that was running at road height is now far above our heads. Over the last kilometer the road has dropped dramatically, but the clever Nabataeans kept the water pipes dropping slowly so as to provide water pressure within the city center.

an underground cistern

 Throughout the city of Petra are hundreds of underground water cisterns. Every possible drop of rainwater, as well as the water piped into the city was stored and used later.

You might also want to check out the paper on Nabataean Water Collection

Extended Abstract from: Petra Water Systems : The water supply and distribution system of the Nabataean city of Petra in southwestern Jordan has been explored and together with data extracted from excavation sources, key cisterns, dams, springs, channels and pipelines comprising the water distribution system have been placed on a site map [Figure 1, The Water Supply and Distribution System of the Nabataean City of Petra (Jordan), 300 BC-AD 300, Cambridge Archaeological Journal 15:1, 93-109, 2005]. Analysis of the system indicates exploitation of all possible water resources using management techniques that balance reservoir storage capacity release with continuous flow pipeline systems to maintain a constant water supply throughout the wet and dry seasons of the year.

The origins of Petra began ca. 300 BCE. Urban development progressed with later Roman administration of the city starting at 106 CE; final Byzantine occupation to the 7th century CE completed site occupation history. Trade networks that extended throughout much of the ancient orient and Mediterranean world intersected at Petra and brought not only strategic and economic prominence but also impetus to develop water resources fully to sustain increasing population and city elaboration demands. City development was influenced by artistic, cultural and technological borrowings from Seleucid, Syro-Phoenician, Greek, Roman and Eastern civilizations through trade route associations; the Petra water distribution system showed indications of hydraulic technologies derived from these contacts as well as original technical innovations that helped to maintain the high living standard of city dwellers throughout the centuries. Analysis of Nabataean piping networks indicates that design criteria are employed that promote stable flows within piping, use sequential particle settling basins to purify potable water supplies, promote open channel flows within piping at near critical (maximum) flow rates that avoid leakage associated with pressurized systems and are designed to match the spring supply rate to the maximum carrying capacity of a pipeline. Estimates of the total city water input from multiple piping networks derived from spring sources and stored cistern water supplies (including latest discoveries of subterranean water cisterns) are made and compared to the water supply rate of ancient Rome in the same era; although a fraction of Rome's supply rate, the amounts are more than adequate to provide for the hygiene and practical needs of the city. New discoveries related to maximizing water flow rates by internal piping wall surface roughness patterns appear to predate later discoveries in western science by some 20 centuries. This, and other demonstrations of engineering capability in hydraulic system design indicates a high degree of skill in solving complex hydraulics problems to ensure a stable water supply and may be posited as a key reason behind the many centuries of flourishing city life.Extended abstract from: Petra Water Systems by C. R. Ortloff.

The full article may be viewed in pdf format at the following website: